Oh, Ego, how we need to learn to tame thee!!
Our culture celebrates the most asinine things, doesn't it? We are taught to push our kids to excel to the point that we actually feel the need to brag about when our kids potty trained! Goodness! Is that really "braggable"? And yet we have all been in conversations where that kind of "achievement" is lifted up as proof of...well...I don't really know. Intellect? Physical prowess? Maturity?
Hey, I get it though. After all, we leave behind jobs and careers to teach our children full-time. Those who take it seriously view it as a job that needs to be done to the best of their ability. That isn't a bad thing, anything we put our heart and soul into we want to be successful at! We care very much about doing a good job! The fact that much is at stake with homeschooling puts more pressure on us to do more, be more, and achieve more.
But perhaps when things start getting out of control and we find ourselves feeling like failures because our kids don't offer us enough fodder to throw out in conversations with other moms or on Facebook groups about their accomplishments, it might be helpful to take a page out of Simon Sinek's book and start with the question, "Why?".
Why did you decide to homeschool? Did you look at that little Kindergartner and say to yourself, "I am going to teach you so well you get into the Ivy League!" Did you say, "I am going to make sure you are reading at college level by 9 years old!"? Did you imagine National Honor Society in their future based upon your skillful teaching?
Chances are, those would not have been first and foremost on your mind when you decided you would buck the system and educate your child at home. Maybe your "Why?" was more along the lines of:
"We enjoy learning together, why stop!"
"I want them to be able to freer to learn at their own pace."
"I don't want the system to parent my kids, I want to do that!"
"They love drama/math/reading/playing with cars and I think I can teach them by incorporating their loves!"
"I want them to explore the world more fully, and we can offer that opportunity better at home."
"They have learning challenges, and I think one on one will help them best."
and probably everyone would say:
"I want them to grow up to be a person with strong morals and good character, and I am not sure that the public education setting will help accomplish that."
Maybe you had other reasons that are not reflected above. When we step back and think about why we started homeschooling, there are very few who would respond that they did so in order to prove they were a better parent, or that their kid was smarter.
We get caught up in what the culture elevates. It is hard not to. We all want to feel accomplished, to be noticed, to prove that we could actually do this crazy thing.
But that is not "why" we do it.
We do it because we love our kids more than life itself, because we have ideas about education that conflict with what they will find in public school. We do it because we want more time with our kids and for family.
We should never, ever do it for Bragging Rights, and in just about every case, we never start there.
But there is motivational drift, isn't there?
If you ever find yourself caught up in this, if in the wee hours of the morning you begin to feel insecure, ineffective, or unsuccessful, I urge you to take a few minutes and write down your original "why", and your current "why". Then, write another list of all the ways you have lived into your "why"...you know, the less than noteworthy but still super important things that you have indeed succeeded at. Then, sit back and read it.
Read it again.
See all the amazing things you have accomplished in educating your child, see all that they are becoming AND overcoming. Remind yourself that your child is unique and doesn't have to be like anyone else, that their path in life is their own and it is your job to guide them toward it, not shove them in the direction you want for them, or the direction that "everyone else's kid" is taking.
Take a deep breath.
You are doing all right, Mom. You really are. Sure, sometimes we get blown off course a bit, we all have that happen from time to time. But your "why" is the reminder of what really matters. Don't lose sight of it, don't let ego keep you from finding joy in it. Pin it on the fridge, make your "why" your touchstone. Join groups that reinforce the validity of different directions in the world, that celebrate the small successes with you, that remind you that your "why" is the thing to hold on to.
And most importantly, look in the mirror and see someone who also matters, who is wise and wonderful, who cares deeply and works hard. She is NEVER unsuccessful as long as she continues to act lovingly and actively, and remembers her "why".